COLUMBIA, S.C. – Brandon McIlwain’s completion percentage and passer efficiency rating are hovering near the bottom of all qualified FBS quarterbacks.
On Thursday, offensive coordinator Kurt Roper offered up an explanation for McIlwain’s struggles throwing the ball down the field: He is a freshman with little experience playing college football.
“It’s hard for a true freshman in the drop-back game, so you try to do it with moving pockets, you try to do it with play-actions, you try to do it with sprint-out passes and screens and those types of things as much as you can,” Roper said. “But as some point in the game, you’re gonna have to ask him to throw from the pocket. That’s just the way the game goes. Obviously, we need to be more productive.
“But I don’t just sit here and beat Brandon up for his production, because he’s having to play at such an early stage in his career and that’s not an easy challenge.”
Roper and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson filled in for Will Muschamp on his weekly radio show Thursday night. Muschamp was on the recruiting trail, watching 2018 5-star defensive end Xavier Thomas play.
Roper was not about to offer up any comment on the quarterback situation, using Muschamp’s canned phrase, “We have a good plan.” He also quipped, “I like my little job.”
He did talk about some of the issues plaguing the Gamecocks offense, which ranks last in the FBS with just 14.0 points per game.
It largely boils down to consistency, Roper said, especially in personnel. The Gamecocks have been hit by injuries on the offensive line and wide receiver this season.
“To get good, you need consistency in what you’re asking them to do and how you’re doing it,” Roper said. “We’ve had a turnstile of who is doing it and not just at the wide receiver position, but at the quarterback position, too.”
Roper expressed confidence the Gamecocks will continue to grow in the season’s second half as they get healthier still and continue to work the same players together.
“I think you’ll see a team that continues to improve,” he said. “But the biggest thing is trying to create consistency among who and what we’re doing.”